Challenges and Teamwork are Helping to Bring the Oakland Airport Terminal Two Concourse Extension to Reality.
The telephone rings and the conversation begins, "I've got good news and I've got bad news. Which do you want first?" That could have been how the conversation started when Carter & Burgess got the good news that it was awarded the Oakland International Airport Terminal Two (T2) Concourse Extension project. The bad news: the T2 project had already gone through the conceptual design phase with another firm and was $11 million over budget, says M. Gregory Mantz, AIA, Carter & Burgess Project Manager. But Carter & Burgess was undaunted and accepted the challenge.
There were three key issues to address: 1) construction costs, 2) coordination and communication, and 3) energy efficiency in the 108,000-square-foot, two-level, $50-million concourse extension project, which adds five gates for Southwest Airlines. These gates are in addition to 12 gates Southwest Airlines already operates in this terminal.
Carter & Burgess spent a significant amount of time early in the project evaluating the Port of Oakland design criteria, Mantz says. From Carter & Burgess' evaluation, the Port was convinced to build the concourse extension out of lightweight steel instead of the previously proposed concrete. The key issue was the San Francisco Bay Area soil classified as "Type D" soil, which is the most unstable soil type upon which to build especially in Seismic Zone 4. But a side benefit of the lighter weight steel allowed elimination of a half a million dollars worth of concrete in the piers and slab alone. Another $2 million was saved in the building structure itself using the steel.
"Without compromising the building's integrity or the Port's goals, Carter & Burgess created a design that saved more than $7 million overall, even though the Port continued to add scope as the project progressed," Mantz says. To this T2 expansion project, the Port added a "Main Distribution Facility (MDF), which is a 5,000-square-foot facility that houses the 'head-in' equipment for all the critical and special systems to operate the airport. The MDF includes everything from basic security, fire alarm, paging systems, Flight Information Display Systems (FIDS) and Baggage Information Display Systems (BIDS)."
Coordination and Communication
Carter & Burgess credits constant communication and a "partnering attitude" when explaining the success of the project. "With constant, clear communication, we were able to work very well with both owners (the Port and Southwest Airlines)," says Mantz.
"Carter & Burgess's design process was a careful balancing act between low cost facilities and long-term usefulness from both the Port Authority's and Southwest Airline's individual perspectives," Mantz says. Each party was interested in a "simple, but elegant, clean and economical facility as each party defined these terms," he says.
Three other projects were occurring simultaneously at the terminal, with two others also in the early design stage. The other T2 projects occurring while Carter & Burgess was designing the expansion were a renovation to the existing Terminal 2 and the design of a mechanical building to support the new T2 facilities. The Port chose to award each design project to a different firm "to spread out the work load," Chris Olsen, Terminal Project Manager with the Oakland International Airport says. However, "in order to facilitate construction, the Port chose a general construction manager (GCM) to oversee all of the projects during the bid and construction phases," Olsen says.
It became clear to Carter & Burgess that, if each design firm created individual specifications, that the specifications would be inconsistent, incompatible, complicated, and possibly incomplete. "Carter & Burgess created a unified specification standard that was possibly the single-most ingenious and complicated part of the project," Olsen says. "Carter & Burgess' master specification process coordination required a lot of patience, coordination, mutual respect and trust from all parties involved. The master specification was insightful and circumvented potential problems that might have been a lot harder and costly to overcome further into the project construction," Olsen says.
"Carter & Burgess assigned 'prime authors' for each section of the specifications, which after being written were reviewed and edited by each major team member. The sections were then returned back to the 'prime author' for final review. Then it was sent back to Carter & Burgess for formatting consistency and insertion into the master specifications document," Olsen adds.
When the initial "Request for Proposal" (RFP) was issued, the Port made note of its interest in energy efficiency for the T2 project. The Port set a goal to beat the California Title 24 Energy Standard. Carter & Burgess' terminal design will beat the project goal by 20 percent.
If the construction phase proceeds on schedule, the T2 expansion project will be the first of its type in America to achieve a "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) certification, awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.
"A side benefit of the energy efficient design is the overall ease of operation and maintenance on a day-to-day as well as long-term basis," Mantz says. "For example, utilizing a central plant provides a more energy-efficient water distribution system for the chilled water to be circulated throughout the concourse air handling system. The air handlers were designed with variable speed drives to act as a single zone variable air volume (VAV) unit. This design provides flexibility in temperature control in the concourse without the maintenance headache of multiple smaller unit-VAV boxes scattered throughout the 16-foot-high ceiling, like in traditional terminals," Mantz explains.
Possible Future International Use
Initially, Carter & Burgess had to consider design issues for converting the concourse expansion for future international air travel use. This design element required considerations for safety and comfort.
To convert any of the concourse space into international use, a sterile corridor needed to be provided along the entire length of the lower floor of the concourse. It was determined that part of the lower level have nothing "fixed or permanent" such as bathrooms, elevators, computer wiring or control systems included in the design, Mantz says, for simplicity in converting it in the future.
"Another important element for international use versus domestic use is passenger comfort," Olsen says. With domestic passengers, the holding area can be smaller as less people move through the space at a faster rate. International flights tend to have more passengers per flight moving through the space at a slower rate due to security and customs issues. Temperature control is also more complicated for international use because passengers stay in the area for more time and therefore body heat collects over that extended time period. "The average holding time for Southwest Airlines passengers is about 15 minutes while the average holding time for international travelers is about one hour," Mantz says. "Southwest Airlines moves about 150 people per flight while international flights average about 400 people per flight."
Carter & Burgess and the Port Authority worked with the Oakland Museum of Art to include a public art program element in the T2 expansion interior design. The goal is to provide space for local artists to display work in the concourse. "It will be like a trip to the art gallery when passengers walk through the concourse," Mantz says.
"Also, on the airport side of the concourse will be a specially-designed 60-foot-long, 10-foot-tall glass art mural designed by a popular local artist," Olsen says. "This glass mural will be lighted from the westside so that the setting sun will have a dramatic impact on the artwork," Mantz says.
In the end, the Port Authority awarding Carter & Burgess the T2 expansion was good news. "Carter & Burgess presented the Port with information that allowed us to make some tough choices during the design phase in order to get back into control and on budget," Olsen says. "But I am extremely pleased with Carter & Burgess's due diligence and value engineering process. It did exactly what we needed to have done," Olsen continues.
"Carter & Burgess did not come in and just give orders, they were true leaders that made sure that the project was a joint effort, with efficient coordination and successful communication, which at times I am sure was quite a challenge," Olsen says.
In the end, Carter & Burgess and the Port Authority worked together with all interested parties to create a Terminal Two Expansion Project that is good news for all its users.
This article originally appeared in Carter & Burgess's Quarterly, Issue Four, 2003.